The process of selling a home does not always go according to plan, and homeowners can find themselves sitting on a home for longer than expected. In fact, there are no guarantees that any home will attract the right buyer and proceed to the closing table.
However, when a home fails to attract buyers and languishes too long on the market, there are often specific issues that can be addressed to improve the chances of a successful sale.
If you are trying to sell your home and are experiencing poor results, here are four of the most common reasons why and how they can be resolved.
If your home is not selling but neither are many others in your area, chances are that market conditions are at fault. This can happen when the inventory of available homes outpaces the number of qualified buyers or when local issues temporarily flood the market with more homes than it can absorb, like during the closing of a major employer.
When market conditions prevent most homes from selling, ask your agent if taking the home off the market for a few months to allow the current inventory to be absorbed.
However, if you need to relocate or if financial pressures prevent you from comfortably making mortgage payments, you may want to speak to your real estate professional about leasing the home until the market corrects. This will keep money coming in to offset expenses until the market improves enough to sell the home. Your agent can help find a qualified renter with a good rental history, and some will be able to manage the property for you, as well.
Specific Issues With the Home
If nearby homes are seeing normal market activity, chances are the problem could be a specific issue with your home. If there have been showings but no further interest is expressed afterward, ask your listing agent for any feedback from those showings which might provide clues as to why buyers chose another home over yours. Common causes of this type of disinterest include:
- issues with cleanliness, clutter or odors when the home was shown
- concerns about repair issues due to something noted during the showing
- concerns about aging systems of the home such as plumbing, HVAC or electric
- issues relating to the location of the home
While buyers cannot change the location of the home, taking care of needed cleaning, repair and maintenance issues can help buyers find reasons to fall in love with the home and overcome any concerns about the location.
If the local real estate market is relatively normal, with respectable numbers of buyers looking at homes and homes going under contract, any home that is largely ignored may have a pricing problem. Correctly pricing a home for sale is crucial, and experienced agents use a wide variety of information to accurately pinpoint the price at which a home will attract buyers. If you ignored your agent's advice and insisted on listing your home above market price thinking that you could always come down later, the resulting inactivity is the market telling you the price is too high.
Ask your agent to do an updated comparative market analysis (CMA) showing the current market activity for homes like yours in the immediate area, including both listing and sales price figures. Examine the data carefully, listen to any advice your agent offers and then be willing to correct the price accordingly.
Another problem that some home sellers face is inadequate or ineffective marketing efforts. Sellers who try "for sale by owner" (FSBO), or who use an unproven real estate agency that offers minimal marketing in exchange for a lower sales commission, are frequently faced with this problem. Marketing a home successfully to get it sold quickly and at the best possible price requires much more than poking a lawn sign into the front yard and putting a photo of the home on a website.
Interview successful, full-service real estate agents in your area as soon as possible. Make appointments with them, inviting them to view your home and discuss options for getting it sold. Ask how they market homes successfully and how their plan will help achieve your goal. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with and then work together to get your home sold.
At the end of the day, it is best to take a deep breath and not panic if your home has not sold yet. The last thing you want to do is make a costly emotional decision. Listen to your real estate agent's advice, and keep improving what you can - soon enough your home will be sold and you will be able to move forward with the next chapter of your life.